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What It Means to Be a Democrat Hardcover – November 10, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"[McGovern] remains one of the country's most decent and thoughtful public servants."
- Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation

"In a book that is far more serious-minded than some of those written by actual 2012 presidential candidates, McGovern lays out a series of ideas aimed at fixing the nation's job crisis, improving health care and education and reducing the widening gap between the rich and everyone else."
- Star Tribune

About the Author

George McGovern is an iconic political figure who helped shape the modern Democratic party. During his twenty-two years as a U.S. Congressman, he fought for the rights of rural Americans and became a staunch critic of the Vietnam War. After his 1972 run for president against Richard Nixon, McGovern went on to serve as the United Nations global ambassador on hunger.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158223
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George McGovern served in the U.S. Senate for 18 years and was the 1972 Democratic candidate for president. He directed the first Food for Peace Program under former president John F. Kennedy. A decorated World War II bomber pilot (Distinguished Flying Cross), he holds a PhD in history from Northwestern University and is a former professor at Dakota Wesleyan University. He was named by former president Bill Clinton in 1997 as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2000, he was awarded by Clinton the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Freedom. He divides his time among South Dakota, Montana, and Florida.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Senator George McGovern sees America is at a crossroads. He has seen quite a lot over the years. He has never seen anything quite like what is happening now. In his new book he tells readers what it means for him to be a Democrat and he offers some thoughts on what he feels are the important issues facing America today and how we should consider approaching them. Here they are in a nutshell:


That is the leading attribute of Democrats according to McGovern. His early hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt was that rare man who had material wealth but still felt compassion for the down and out. And he did something about helping the downtrodden. Since 1981 the GOP, beginning with Ronald Reagan have been attempting to dismantle FDR's New Deal. When George HW Bush called Reagan's ideas "voodoo economics" he was correct. They were. And they remain so. McGovern has been called a "bleeding heart liberal." He's proud of that because his heart does bleed for those who are having a tough time getting by. He states that the wealthiest 1% are making 24% of the money in America today. And that is not right. Compassion is needed.

Fear and Defense Spending

The invasion of Iraq never should have happened. We need to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Three trillion has been or will be squandered as a result of the Bush/Cheney hysterical fear factor. The Dept. of Homeland Security should be shut down. He isn't discounting 9/11 or the terrorist threat but our massive debt is in large part a result of this culture of exaggerated fear and pointless war.

The Purpose of Government

The federal government (and Democrats) have created programs that make our lives better: Medicare, Social Security, rural electricity, etc.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Critical Rationalist on December 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
George McGovern is an honorable, clear-thinking American for whom the only ideology is simple, unselfish service to country. In this short, quick read of a book, he reminds us what true American values are: Big-heartedness, generosity, help for those in need, ingenuity, hard work to get ahead, a decent respect for every human being, and bipartisan pragmatism.

Senator McGovern is a decorated war hero (a bomber pilot who survived dozens of missions in WWII), a member of the Kennedy Administration, and by his own account a "stand-in" presidential candidate who ran against Nixon after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. He draws on his rich personal knowledge of 65 years of American politics to place the current radical-right GOP in historical perspective as one of the worst political developments ever to happen in America. "We are," he reminds us, "a nation in which fear and paranoia run deep. Since the Pilgrims made landfall in 1620, we have burned so-called witches at the stake, hauled Japanese-Americans to internment camps, and blacklisted people who we labeled Communists." In postwar history, it is the Republicans who "have fomented popular fears to their best advantage." The GOP is the party of demagoguery and playing dirty: McCarthyism, the "southern white strategy," Willie Horton, ginned-up WMDs and specters of mushroom clouds in Iraq, Swiftboating, and the Socialist-Muslim-Kenyan nonsense.

When Republicans are elected to public office, they overreach, ignore facts and common sense, and run roughshod over the country. The Patriot Act invades our privacy. The Homeland Security department is a bloated "behemoth that now has more than 200,000 employees and a $42 billion budget.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Valerie B. Lull on July 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
During most of my life I have largely ignored politics, voting on emotion or looks rather than the particular person's views on those issues. That changed as I got older and personally experienced some of the problems we face in American society.

I find this book to be a good discussion of current, relevant issues and the Democratic position. Some of the issues discussed in this book are food and hunger, immigration, education, creating jobs, the Middle East, and universal health care. I did not know much about George McGovern before reading this book. In this book I found the views of a most interesting man who has served his country well.

This book has helped me to bring into focus and clarify many if the issues facing Americans today. It has helped me to form some of my own opinions and views on these issues. I found this book to be well worth the time it took to read it and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the issues facing Americans today. -- Valerie Lull, Author, Ten Healthy Teas
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kthdimension on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book, George McGovern presents the reader with a thoughtful, concise, and quickly-readable explanation of what it means to be a Democrat: what Democrats hold dear, what they advocate for, and the beliefs that bind them together. The former senator (and one-time presidential candidate) wastes no time summing up what a Democrat is (pp. five):

"Above all, being a Democrat means having compassion for others. It means putting government to work to help the people who need it. It means using all available tools to provide good health care and education, job opportunities, safe neighborhoods, a healthy environment, a promising future. It means standing up for people who have been kept down, whether they are Native Americans or African Americans, women, immigrants, or the homeless. It means taking care of the mentally ill, of seniors, of vulnerable children, of veterans --- and making sure all people are treated with respect and dignity."

The remainder of the book is spent explaining how a Democrat's views of government and its role are manifest with respect to compassion, defense spending, the purpose of government, food/hunger, immigration, education, employment, energy/environment, the Middle East, health care, and addiction. He draws sharp contrasts with the Republican party to emphasize his points and, admirably, keeps his criticisms aboveboard, although he does single out the Tea Party as a major contributor to the increasing acrimony on Capitol Hill.
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